Front Page

Helen Tai Wins Special Election to Represent 178th District in Pennsylvania

Helen Tai (right) defeated Wendi Thomas in Tuesday’s special election.

Democrat Helen Tai narrowly defeated Republican Wendi Thomas in a special election Tuesday to represent Pennsylvania’s 178th District.

Tai will now complete the term of former state Representative Scott Petrie in the 178th District, which covers the borough of New Hope, along with Northampton, Solebury, Upper Makefield and Wrightstown townships.

Tai garnered 6,359 votes (50.4%) to Thomas’ 6,263 (49.6%), a 96-vote margin, effectively flipping the district into blue territory (Petrie is a Republican).

“There were so many terrible things happening, and I thought, ‘I’ve been going to these protests, I’ve been calling Pat Toomey with no response,’ and it was so frustrating,” Tai recalled in her acceptance speech. “I thought, ‘I can do something actually positive, instead of protesting and complaining. There’s more that we can do.'”


“I am looking forward to Helen joining the ranks of the House Democrats,” said Democratic Leader Frank Dermody. “At a time when our Commonwealth is in need of new ideas, Helen will bring her proven record of government reform to the state House.”

In other election news, Scott Wallace (25,734 votes) handily defeated Rachel Reddick (14,779) and Steve Bacher (3,591) in the Democratic Primary Election for representative in Congress.

About the author

Charlie Sahner

“Once you can accept the universe as matter expanding into nothing that is something, wearing stripes with plaid comes easy." - Einstein


  • If anyone really wants to get insight into the belief system of politicians, go to their blogs. Read Helen Tai’s comments on pages 190-193 about the “Morning After ( posted 11/10/16). See if you are in sync with her views.Read these pages a few times. It’s a real eye opener.

    • If one really reads the article, Helen was openly and honestly expressing her surprise, dismay and gut reaction to the election victory of Donald Trump – as were many voters.

      Could she have softened the tone of her article? Maybe.

      But she openly admitted that she shouldn’t have those “us versus them” feelings, nor was it really fair to make disparaging remarks about those who voted for Donald Trump.

      Helen’s airing of her initial post-election feelings was distorted into some evil condescension of those with whom she disagrees. My interpretation of her article was that she didn’t intend that at all. She was trying to resolve the inevitable outcome of a disappointing election.

      Let’s move on.

  • Did Helen Tai really win a mandate, or did she win based on a technicality? On another site someone brought up some interesting numbers:
    If you take a look at the votes in the Primary and in the Special Election, something weird happened. Wendi got 6,653 in the Republican Primary and Helen got 6,274 in the Democratic Primary. HOWEVER…Helen got 6,359 in the Special and Wendi got 6,263. This just doesn’t make sense. The only rational explanation is that Bucks County R’s thought they just needed to vote for Wendi once. BCRC may not have done enough to remind voters they had to vote for her twice, and thus, costing them a House seat.

    My Reply:
    Great point! If your Primary numbers are accurate, it certainly looks like a “Technical Win” for Helen Tai, and it appears that the Democrat Machine coached their voters much better than the Republicans. However, shame on those Republicans who couldn’t or didn’t bother to figure out if you only voted once for Wendi Thomas you had to vote for her against Helen Tai in the Special Election and not in the Primary where she was unopposed. Shame on the Wendi Thomas Poll Workers who did not properly coach the Republican voters.

    It’s obvious that Democrat voters knew what they needed to do by racking up more votes in the Special Election vs. the Primary. Maybe it’s time to have a recount circa the “Hanging Chad” Florida recount. What was the intent of those Republican voters who only voted for Wendi Thomas in the primary slot?

    Regardless, this special election should not have been this close. Going forward, The Bucks County Republican Committee needs to start running “Real Republicans”.

      • It appears that more Republican voters came out for the Primary, but did not vote for the separate, special election ballot at the top of the voting screens.

        Helen Tai’s campaign was very clear in explaining the need to vote for both Primary AND special election. And it worked beautifully.

        Too bad the ballot was so confusing, but it’s up to each party to explain the situation to its voters before they go into the booth to cast their vote.

  • Helen Tai, I know how hard it is to toss your life into the political fray. Thank you for running, and more then that, thank you for winning. Congratulations! It is important that you have people, who voted for your message, like me, offer continued support. You are not alone. I am proud of your campaign and proud to offer you my continued support as you represent the good people of New Hope, Pennsylvania and more.Be well! Diane

  • Congrats to Helen Tai! I think this is the first time a Democrat has won this seat since the early ’80’s…

    If this is yet another sign of change, November can’t get here fast enough.

    Time for the Blue Wave to wash away the mess of the last 18 months.

  • Tim obviously has bought into the divisive name-calling so cynically exploited by the Trumpers and their Russian cohorts that it now substitutes for coherent policy discussion. I think the US is ready to move beyond that and make policy based on reality and not archaic labels.
    We have “Tai-d” one on!

    • unless I am mistaken no name calling has occurred minus you. Your response is quite typical of one who feels threatened by someone who presents a counter viewpoint based on, surprise, fact. A typical left leaning response, unfortunately.

      I simply have no use for politicians who use children as pawns regardless of party. However it is quite a common tactic among the left to exploit our children for political gain so I am not surprised you advocate for such a position.

      Oh yeah, Hillary by a landslide…

    • Helen won the special election by 96 votes (votes were cast at the top of the screen on the ballot), because of a vacancy left by Scott Petri’s resignation. That victory allows Helen to serve out that term until the November elections are held.

      For the upcoming November general election, voters also had to cast their party’s choice for the Primary (in the normal position on the ballot screen). Wendi ran unopposed on the Republican ticket, and I believe Helen was unopposed as well on the Democratic side.

      But PA primaries are “closed,” meaning that only a candidate’s political party can vote for them.

      What appears to have happened is that Republicans came out in healthy numbers to vote for Wendi as a Primary candidate, but didn’t cast a vote for her to fill out the special election slot. It was two different votes on one ballot, which led to a lot of confusion.

      Democratic voters came in well-informed. I don’t think it was explained as well to the Republican voters.

  • Wake up Solebury! We cannot let “politicians” like Helen Tai win! She is divisive and has effectively levied a tax on all New Hope residents to allow their children to use Solebury sports fields.

    If Helen will tax your children what do you think she would do to homeowners? Helen does not respect anyone not like her.

    A 96 vote win today can be overcome in Nov if you get out and vote!

    • I am not a Helen Tai fan & I did not vote for her. That being said, stop with the “taxing children” rhetoric. She pushed to get New Hope residents to pay their FAIR SHARE for recreational activities. Solebury residents were unfairly paying for the New Hope residents’ free ride.

      • “Fair share” is liberal-speak for tax. Call it what it is.
        I live in Solebury and did not support her partisan politics using children as pawns. This shows you her true colors.
        Helen refused to consider alternative discussion points when the truth is that the two localities were not far apart. If you disagree with Helen you receive the cold shoulder.

        • Tim, keep up. You are barking up the wrong tree. The Solebury Supervisors attempted to work this out with the New Hope council for months! NH refused to meet and kicked that can down the road. The ‘truth’ is that there was no discussion because NH never came to the table. NH is run, or should I say, not run, with any transparency – as shown with all the recent issues coming out of city hall. So, you can chose the other candidate – but find an issue that has merit behind it, but this one has none!

          • The Solebury Suopervisors lead by Helen Tai wanted to charge NH 3x the amount they owed for the sports programs. Even the Solebury Parks & Rec department called her out on her absurd numbers.

          • Tim is on point! Helen based “New Hope owes us Money” on numbers whose veracity was even questioned by the Chair of Solebury Parks & Rec! (Not just New Hope)… My understanding is they were based on the ENTIRE parks & rec budget not just Sports fields and related piece of the P&R budget) When New Hope put out their numbers as they said they would (just not on Helen’s/Solebury Supv’s timeline), their numbers show Solebury owes New Hope money… Bottom Line: It’s an attempt to tax New Hope residents by Solebury…

          • I voted for Helen, and I think she will be a good representative for our district.

            However, the New Hope/Solebury playing field issue has been misrepresented by the press. Helen’s mistake is that she played out the problem through the press from the beginning.

            I doubt whether New Hope had the appetite to follow suit, since the main issue was who owed what for SHARED SERVICES, not just the athletic fields. For example, New Hope Borough police are present on campus of NHS School each and every school day – at the Borough’s expense. That’s just one of the many issues included under the shared services topic.

            Also, wasn’t it Solebury Township’s own decision to eliminate the all-volunteer athletic programs on school campus (NHS Community Association) years ago, in favor of acquiring land for fields which they now have to maintain? This was a township decision, not a Borough one.

            Perhaps the best solution is for the parents of kids who want to use the fields to pay for their use, with supplemental help for those who can’t afford it. This should not be part of the Borough’s budgeted shared service.

Leave a Comment